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Microfluidic fabrication of advanced microcapsules for use in self-healing materials
The proposed work aims to facilitate the development of a microfluidic platform for the production of advanced microcapsules containing active agents which can be the functional constituents of self-healing composites. The creation of such microcapsules is enabled by the unique flow characteristics within microchannels including precise control over shear and interfacial forces for droplet creation and manipulation as well as the ability to form a solid shell either chemically or via the addition of thermal or irradiative energy. Microchannel design and a study of the fluid dynamics and mechanisms for shell creation are undertaken in order to establish a fabrication approach capable of producing healing-agent-containing microcapsules. An in-depth study of the process parameters has been undertaken in order to elucidate the advantages of this production technique including precise control of size (i.e., monodispersity) and surface morphology of the microcapsules. This project also aims to aid the optimization of the mechanical properties as well as healing performance of self-healing composites by studying the effects of the advantageous properties of the as-produced microcapsules. Scale-up of the microfluidic fabrication using parallel devices on a single chip as well as on-chip microcapsule production and shape control will also be investigated. It will be demonstrated that microfluidic fabrication is a versatile approach for the efficient creation of functional microcapsules allowing for superior design of self-healing composites.